Oaxaca with Jonathan Zaragoza

December 3 - 9, 2023 | Reserve Your Spot

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Savor Oaxaca

Experience the flavorful heart and cultural soul of Oaxaca with Chef Jonathan Zaragoza

December 3 - 9, 2023

Likely to sell out – reserve your spot!

7 Day, 6 Nights

Best of Oaxaca City, Teotitlan del Valle, Monte Albán

Price from

$4,700

Per person based on double occupancy

Questions? Text or call us
+1 (855) 219-8018

Breathe it all in. Then take a bite. Oaxaca just may be the birthplace of regional cuisine, a land where each dish relies on the complex interplay of chiles and fresh herbs you simply can’t find anywhere else. The air here is rich with the scent of masa; of roasted ground chiles and richly smoked meats; of fresh marjoram and cebollín (wild onion) infused salsas. This is Oaxaca, land of the seven moles, a place where traditions are handed down through the centuries and secrets are shared, not hoarded. On this adventure, you’ll meet local shamans, share lunch with master artisans and collaborate on a farm-to-table feast that will—much like a smooth, earthy 25-year-old Arroqueño mezcal—warm your heart and soul for years to come.

With us on this incredible journey of the senses is Jonathan Zaragoza, executive chef of Chicago’s acclaimed Birrieria Zaragoza. He’s been on a meteoric rise since he could hold a spatula or roast his own goat—which weren’t that far apart. From working at Michelin-star restaurants in his teens to being on Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list at the ripe age of 22, Jonathan is a master of his craft, with a special ability to always infuse his Mexican heritage, and the stories that come with it, into unforgettable dishes.

No matter how much you may know about Oaxacan culture and food, this journey will teach us, delight us—and leave us hungry for more. Wander colorful markets, taste incredible street food from moles to tlayudas, then wash it all down with the finest artisanal mezcals. This is Mexico like you’ve never imagined.

Taste

Rich moles, spiced chocolate, street tacos—more flavors than you can imagine

Marvel

At Oaxaca’s colorful food markets, artist workshops, agave farms, ancient pyramids

Meet

Traditional weavers and sculptors, modern artists and shaman healers

Connect

With Oaxacan traditions, its vibrant art scene and culture, with Chef Jonathan Zaragoza

3 Reasons to Travel with Jonathan Zaragoza

For Jonathan—equal parts Mexican and Chicagoan—food is a fine blend of family and heritage. In a city ubiquitous with Italian beef and hot dogs (which he is all about), Jonathan brings an authentic Mexican experience to curious diners. We can’t wait to see him in the moment as he brings Oaxaca’s rich culinary culture, and his infectious humor, to the table.

The G.O.A.T.

As executive chef of Birrieria Zaragoza, Jonathan’s perfected birria, a wood-fired goat roast traditionally from Jalisco, in a way that is unmatched in Chicago and beyond. It earned him the attention of Chicago Tribune, as well as his spot on “StarChefs 2018 Rising Stars.”

Neighborhood Boy

Some of Jonathan’s most formative culinary moments started at home in Chicago’s Southside. From the kitchen with mom to the backyard where Jonathan helped his father and grandfather prepare birria, Jonathan’s family raised him to be the star he is today.

Young and Hungry

His teens and early 20s were spent with some of Chicago’s best-known chefs including Frank Brunacci at Sixteen and Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia. And by 2019, he had already received his first James Beard Semifinalist nod for Outstanding Service at Birrieria Zaragoza.

Your Experience

“Oaxaca is magical—it feels like it's constantly twinkling… every little thing is so full of richness and tradition.”
Jonathan Zaragoza

Oaxaca City, Monte Albán

“You cannot leave Oaxaca without having a proper mole.”
Jonathan Zaragoza

Day by Day

Day 1

Bienvenidos a Mexico! We’ll meet up with Jonathan and get oriented with one of Latin America’s great colonial wonders: Oaxaca City. We’ll walk through the cobblestone streets and snack through its central markets, a feast of the senses where tasajo (dried meats) hang, open fires grill delicious tlayudas (toasted tortillas topped, pizza-style, with grilled meats), and vendors scurry past offering chapulines (roasted grasshoppers) and pastry-like pan de yema stacked in woven baskets. 

In the evening, we’ll toast the start of our adventure with local mezcal—of course—then walk to dinner overlooking Oaxaca’s flood-lit cathedral for an inspired meal together under the stars.

Day 1 Highlights

  • City market food tour
  • Welcome cocktails
  • Dinner at Casa Oaxaca
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 2

Today we head into the mountains, where villages devoted to arts and crafts lurk in valley shadows. We’ll stop at the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, a weaving village with about 5,000 people (and 2,000 looms). We’ll meet a local Zapotec weaving family, who’ll demonstrate their intricate craft using natural fibers for dyes (and even a grounded insect for the bright reds), just as they have for the past 14 generations. A hands-on and home-cooked Zapotec lunch awaits us, where we’ll learn the hows and whys behind Nixtamalization.

Afterwards we return to the city, where the afternoon is yours to explore. We’ll reconvene at one of Oaxaca’s culinary icons, Chef Rodolfo Castellanos’ Origen, for an unforgettable dinner of uniquely Oaxacan cuisine.

Day 2 Highlights

  • Zapotec Weaving village
  • Home-cooked Zapotec Lunch
  • Dinner at Origen
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 3

In the morning, we’ll wind our way past rows of agave plants to meet up with a fourth-generation mezcalero in Santa Catarina Minas for a masterclass in mezcal, the cousin-spirit of tequila and one of Oaxaca’s famed exports. We’ll learn firsthand how the piña (heart) of agave are harvested and smoked in underground pits, fermented in large vats, and distilled in copper or clay stills based on traditions that date back hundreds of years.

Afterwards, we return to the city, where the evening is ours to explore Oaxaca’s irresistible food and nightlife: world-class restaurants open for dinner and taco stands set up along the lit-up zócalo, just a few blocks from our hotel.

Day 3 Highlights

  • Mezcal experience
  • Mezcal tasting 
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 4

We begin this epic day at the hilltop ruin of Monte Albán, a vast complex of pyramids and shrines dating from 500 BC—and easily one of Mesoamerica’s grandest sites. We’ll explore its monumental scale and the intricate carvings of bas relief sculptures as one of Mexico’s great colonial cities sprawls below us.

We’ll carry that history with us when we stop for lunch just outside the city at one of Oaxaca’s most unique restaurants; we’ll feast family-style on local mezcal and tacos as chickens patrol the backyard. The afternoon is a time to recharge at the hotel or explore on your own. Just don’t wander too far as Jonathan will lead us to a casual no-frills, only-in-Oaxaca dinner.

Day 4 Highlights

  • Visit Monte Albán temple complex
  • Traditional lunch
  • Tlayuda dinner
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 5

Today is ours to revitalize our hearts and spirits. We’ll meet with a local Zapotec shaman, who’ll share the secrets of a cleansing ritual that’s been in practice here for thousands of years, using smoked copal to bid farewell to negative energies. We’ll leave feeling electric and magical as we make our way to the home studio of a master artisan of Oaxacan folk art. After a private pottery tour, she’ll host us for a homemade lunch featuring one of the region’s famed seven moles.

Once back in Oaxaca, you’ll have the evening to yourself. Organize a taco crawl on the zócalo, relax in one of our hotel’s many garden spaces or wander towards those sublime notes of live folk guitar.

Day 5 Highlights

  • Shaman ritual cleansing
  • Artist meet-up, studio visit & lunch
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 6

After a leisurely morning at the hotel, we leave for the pinnacle of our journey, a total Oaxacan farm-to-table experience. Our destination is a renown and locally beloved ranch on the outskirts of the city. Once arrived, we’ll break into small groups and take turns making mole, Oaxacan cheese and ice cream and gain a hands-on understanding of the flavors and ingredients which make these dishes so unique. In addition, we’ll be led in the art of tamale making by a local master chef.

For dinner, we savor the al fresco feast, including a special dish dreamt up by Jonathan, and enjoy all the local delicacies we had a hand in preparing. This farewell dinner will be a true celebration of our time spent in Oaxaca. The food, the music, the joyful celebrations of craft—all of it an ode to handed-down traditions and the true flavors of region.

Day 6 Highlights

  • Hands-on cooking at local farm
  • Farewell dinner with Jonathan
  • Stay at El Callejón in Oaxaca

Day 7

All great things come to an end, alas. We’ll bid farewell to Jonathan and to Oaxaca, and head out to the airport for our flights home. Buen viaje!

Day 7 Highlights

  • Transfer to airport

Where We Sleep

A peaceful oasis in Oaxaca City—our accommodations are small-scale and boutique, the ideal ways to get acquainted with Oaxaca life.

El Callejón

Oaxaca City

Off a central side street, a few blocks from the zocalo and central shops and eateries, a street gate opens into a breathtaking oasis that’s our Oaxaca City home: a boutique hotel with a dozen spacious rooms blending the city’s distinctive styles. Serenity reigns in its thoughtful garden spaces, with palm trees, covered walkways and an outdoor patio bar.

I loved eating goat just after it was lifted from the pit, sipping on a mezcal.
Diana C.
This is more than just a trip. It’s authentic and joyful, and a powerful reminder of why we travel.
Scott M.
The meals made for us in local homes were just heavenly.
Andrew B.

Book Oaxaca with Jonathan Zaragoza

Number of Travelers

Payment

Reserve your spot today with a $1,000 per-person deposit plus room supplements (if relevant). Full payment is due 180 days prior to your trip departure date. We’ll email you a reminder. If your trip departs in less than 180 days, we’ll collect full payment either 30 days from when we receive your deposit, or 60 days prior to your trip departure date, whichever is sooner. For details read our Deposit FAQs

$4,700

Per person based on double occupancy

Can't travel on these dates?
Call us at

+1 (855) 219-8018

Questions?

That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.

  1. What does the price include?

    Six nights at unique 4-star boutique accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.

  2. What does the price not include?

    International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.

  3. Where does the trip start and end?

    Our adventure begins and ends at the El Callejón Hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico. The closest airport is Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). On our final day, Modern Adventure will organize a complimentary transfer to OAX for all guests who’s flight home departs at 1pm or later from OAX airport.

  4. What travel documents are needed?

    US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Mexico, but are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over. On arrival in the airport, you will be issued a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For citizens of other countries, please check with the Mexico Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.

  5. Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?

    For solo travelers, there is a $2,000 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. These spots are extremely limited; we recommend booking early to secure single accommodations.

  6. Who is going on this trip?

    Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.

  7. Who is leading this trip?

    This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure trip leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.

  8. Do I need Travel Insurance?

    We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement for your trip costs; if your trip plans change for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to get medical help, emergency transport, and for theft, loss or damage of items while traveling. For best coverage, always insure the full trip cost within two weeks of your initial trip deposit and note that most ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ policies must be purchased on the date of your initial deposit.

  9. What is the cancellation policy?

    You may cancel on or before August 5, 2023, and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel on or after August 6, 2023, there is a 50% cancellation fee. On or after October 4, 2023 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or cases of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).

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